Food Parcels Update and The community Organisations Cost of Living Fund

By Alex Sanderson (Project Manager)

Did you know? Our Ash Villages Food Parcels Proejct received funding from the The Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund to help us keep the project going in 2023/2024. We are so grateful for this government funding, as it makes all the difference for local families. The funding ended in March and we have just finished writing up our end of grant report, so I thought you might like to see a few of the statistics.

I am so incredibly proud of this amazing volunteer team! In 23 weeks they have fed 1300 people. They have been very busy collecting donations, managing the stock, packing and delivering over 400 parcels. The funding we received stocked up the shelves to make sure we could deliver enough food, basic toiletries, and baby bank items to those in urgent need in our local villages of Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham.

Have a guess how many volunteer hours they have racked up between them? We had 32 different volunteers, who worked a total of 373 shifts, donating a staggering 648 hours of their time between them during these 23 weeks. What a huge thing to do for the community. Thank you all so much!

If you would like me to pass on a message to them for you, please email me and I will be sure to share it in our team chat!

Have a happy week!


Get involved with the Community Street Team!

by Pat Scott

We all say “what a lovely community Ash & Ash Vale are” – very true! Would you like to help our wonderful community?  Just an hour or so when needed, helping at community events in Ash and Ash Vale such as the Village Fete in June, the Youth Centre (hopefully opening soon), Lakeside Nature Fun Day, Remembrance Day and Fantasia.

For 12 years the Community Street Team have concentrated on engaging with local youngsters between 10 – 16 years to address local anti-social issues.  We have engaged with the youth, listen to them and try to suggest alternative routes for their lifestyle.

As a result of Anti Social Behaviour having been reduced successfully, we are now planning to “morph” into a more community-focussed group with some volunteers continuing “Outings” but now some members also giving greater assistance at local events i.e Village Fete, Lakeside Nature Reserve Event, Remembrance Day Parades and Christmas Fantasia.

If you would like to help please contact Pat Scott or (01252) 324941.  I look hearing from you.

Thank you – and please keep voting!

This is wonderful news! The local Food Parcels team would like to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for us recently on the Co-op Communtiy page! Your votes have helped us to raise £1,171.07 so far, to help feed local families in crisis.

Please keep voting! Every vote for St Mary’s means more funding for the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project. We need as many votes as possible before 24th October 2024, to secure further funding from the Co-op community fund for winter 2024. Please choose us as your local cause here:

Community Forum: Would you like to talk to the community team have your say? Co-op is hosting a community forum on 21st March at the Ash Parish Centre. Local people are welcome to join in and share their views. Book your place and join in to find out more by clicking on this link: Your local Coop Community forum for Ash and the surrounding villages (

Thank you for your support!

Ash Vale Community Fridge –  Our journey so far! 

(by Alex Sanderson and Carla Morson)

What a super morning we had on 21st June 2023 celebrating this new project!  We are delighted to declare the new Ash Vale Community Fridge officially open! This is a superb way to make sure that no good food goes to waste, and we hope all our friends and neighbours enjoy using it.  Ever wondered what goes in to a project like this? Here’s how the story unfolded…

One fine autumn day in 2022, our amazing Ash Villages Food Parcels Team, Chapel Project Team, and Chapel Kids toddler group were delighted to visit Ash Vale Co-op to celebrate the amazing support, delicious Fareshare food donations and vital community funding received from the Co-Op community team, and our 2 local stores in Ash and Ash Vale. We got chatting to Claire about food waste and mentioned wanting to have a fridge or shelving of some sort outside, so we could offer food to the community for more than just a few hours a week when the food parcels team are in the building. Amazingly, Claire had a contact, and knew of a Co-op / Hubbub Community Fridge network grant funding round that was closing in just a few days – fantastic!

With no time to waste, we sprang into action. First we got the go-ahead from The Chapel management team and St Mary’s, and started the application forms. With some super support from Patrick, who kindly handles the money side of things for our Food Parcels Project for us, we got the right documents submitted along with our Community Fridge application just in time. And then… Joy of joys! We were chosen to join the scheme, and received the funding in early 2023. With that, the search was on for a fridge.. that would fit in a shed.. that would fit in the space.. that would fit within budget… not as easy as it sounds, but we got there.

You can’t run a fridge on fresh air, so the next job was the electrics! Fortunately, Sacha from Sassy does it electrical was overseeing the Chapel’s electrical checks in the spring. Her team did a super job, so we invited them back to help us with an electrical supply for the community fridge. Their help and advice was invaluable and they did the job brilliantly. We even have an extra socket at the ready just in case we need heat or light in the winter.

Where there’s food there’s admin… If you’ve ever seen a Hubbub community fridge before, you will know that they are super helpful, providing signage, instructions, templates and pointers for every eventuality. We were very fortunate to have the amazing Viv on our team who kindly trawled through hundreds of pages of advice and instructions and made sure we didn’t miss anything important. Between us we completed the risk assessments, registrations, signage and other ‘setting things up’ tasks that go on behind the scenes. We even had Carla taking time out of a very busy schedule chasing up the insurance for us to get it all ready in time!

While the ladies busied themselves with the paperwork… the gents took on the practical challenges: We owe a big THANK YOU to Luke and his team who cleared away the weeds to make a clear space for us as part of their garden clean-up, and to Jeff who measured up and hand made the base for the shed and reinforced the floor, and to Steve and Alun who put up the shed, strengthened it, and bolted the Fridge down safely to make sure it stays where it is! We even have a lovely shelf, custom made, from a re-purposed kitchen top, so we can have swap-shop items and non-fridge items available in the community shed too.

The final piece of the jigsaw is of course the food to go in the fridge. This is where our food parcels team comes in – they will be the first regular contributors. These local heroes collect donated food from Co-op, Bookers and Tesco in the evenings twice a week. They use everything they can to go into the food parcels for local families, but sometimes they do receive things that will be out of date by the morning and can’t be frozen, or sometimes more of something than can be used in the parcels. They always try to make sure nothing is wasted, but it can be very time consuming making lots of individual phone calls. Now of course, having the community fridge is perfect – we can all simply pop the surplus in the fridge, snap a photo and tell our Facebook followers what’s up for grabs.

And then we launched! It’s hard to believe that all the hard graft has finally paid off and we can proudly say that the community fridge is officially open! The Co-op team are so amazing, they even came to celebrate the launch with us, bringing fresh bread and bananas to offer out to our first Community Fridge heroes! Rev Neil said a few words, and he, Carla and Claire cut the ribbon. Alex brought along some fizz and we all raised a glass (alcohol free of course!) to the project and all involved.

What does the future hold? It’s up to you! We hope that everyone locally will get into the habit of using the Ash Vale Community Fridge. Give what you can, take what you need, keep good food out of the bin… and please remember to fill in the sheet in the red folder so we can tell you how much food we have saved! We would love to grow this project, with more evening volunteers for more food collections, to put food in the fridge every night. We would love more volunteers to join the rota to check the fridges and help us to keep them shiny and clean. We will need some help raising funds for the electric bill once the initial grant funds run out, if anyone fancies becoming a regular donor or doing a sponsored challenge, give us a call. Feedback is always welcomed too of course, in person or you can phone or email. If you’d like to come and talk to us, Monday Chapel Café is 9am-12:00 in term time. Alex is there each week during the school term with Andy ready to make you a cuppa and give you the tour. Why not pop in and say hello?

Please join us in thanking these amazing local heroes, and see you soon at the fridge!

Alex & Carla

Project Manager’s phone: 07730 609446

Location:The Chapel Project, (former methodist church) Wharf Rd, Ash Vale, GU12 5AY

Our hall of fame… so far! Send us your photos of visiting, using and supporting the Community Fridge! Photo of the red folder – remember to log your food in and out! Patrick doing the electrics…. Steve and Alun putting up the shed… Jeff who built the base and reinfoced it, and has been part of the food parcels team for 3 years! ….Photos of the Launch Day with our friends from Co-Op….. Photos of the fridge in action…. Photos of the Food Parcels Crew who add items to the fridge… Photo of Rosie and Paul who collect donations in the evenings…. Send us your photos to add to the gallery! Love to everyone! xxx

Ash Villages Food Parcels Project

By Alex Sanderson 

Did you know? This amazing local team of volunteers have been feeding people in need in our villages since April 2020!

How does St Mary’s fit in? St Mary’s is the local parish church in Ash Vale. As well as Sunday services, we love to serve our amazing community all week long! We host community groups – everything from toddlers to choir to Friday Community Cafe. Nearby, we work with the local Methodist Circuit to run the Chapel Project on Wharf Rd. We offer a Monday Chapel Cafe & warm hub there, host the Chapel Kids toddler group with lunch club, and provide summer picnics, monthly makes and other community, creativity and arts events. In these difficult times our most important project is the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project (and our Community Fridge opening Summer 2023). We work together with Carla Morson and a superb team of volunteers from both the church and the Ash Villages Support Circle, feeding 20-40 families every week. 

What does the project do? The Ash Villages Food Parcels Project serves our neighbours in Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. We deliver emergency food and toiletries to local people in crisis, and offer a listening ear. Twice a week teams go out in the evening to collect donations of bread and perishables from the supermarkets and others shop for the best value items to top this up, to make a balanced food parcel. We add these to the food items donated by local people and then pack the parcels the following morning, ready to go out to local people in need. 

How do we help people? Our Food Parcels project helps local people in crisis, by providing emergency food and toiletries. This includes ‘baby bank’ items eg nappies. Referrals come from CAB, Wellbeing Team, Social Services, DWP and local churches too. As well as food, we offer a listening ear, and help to connect people to other sources of help, including Monday Chapel Cafe and local warm hubs. We are passionate about connecting with people to battle against the anxiety, isolation and mental strain that goes hand in hand with food poverty, not just providing a one-off parcel. The lovely thing is, that lots of people who receive a parcel later go on to volunteer or donate to help others once they are back on their feet. This community is truly amazing! 

How can local people help? We can all work together to help our neighbours. Our volunteers are amazing at what they do and we can always use more hands on deck. The other issue is of course funding. Typically we spend around £400 per week on basic essentials for the parcels, to top up what comes in as donated items. Please help us to keep the food parcels filled and keep the Chapel doors open for a warm welcome. Here’s the donations link:

You can donate once or sign up for a regular gift. If 100 people could regularly give £4 a week we could cover the food costs! Will you join us? 

You can also donate items for the parcels direct to us. We use the app called  “Bank the food” to let our supporters know what is most needed each week. You can text or phone us and ask if you’d like more information: 07730609446

Thank you for your support. It makes all the difference to local people in need. Let’s make sure we can proudly say that in our lovely community,  none of our neighbours go hungry. 

Thank you for your support. 


What food should I donate for the foodbank? There’s an App for that! 

Did you know? There is a new app out there called “Bank the Food” which helps everyone to know just what to donate to their local food banks to help those in need in the community.

Our local Food Parcels Project started during Covid and feeds local people every week. Search for Ash Vale in the App and you will see we are on the list for donations. We would be very glad of your support. We are of course grateful for all donations, but if you use the app, the advantage is that  you can see what we need most urgently, 

The last step is getting the donations to us. If you shop in the village you can pop items in the collecting basket at Ash Vale Co-op (tap your membership card while you’re in there and collect point for the community fund  please!). Wherever you shop, you can buy items to donate and drop them off at St Mary’s Church on Vale Road or The Chapel on Wharf Road whenever they are open. We do the rest, packing parcels and making sure they reach our neighbours in need in our local community of Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. 

Thank you for your support, it makes a huge difference. We would especially like to thank everyone who supported the Christmas food parcels last week. Over 130 local people were brought some Christmas cheer with food, treats, gifts and winter warmers. It makes a big difference to local people. Thank you!

Alex, Carla and all the team. 

PS – if you are struggling to afford enough to eat you can be referred to us by Citizens Advice / Job Centre / local churches / health visitor / social services / Guildford borough wellbeing team. 

Letter from The Vicarage – Easter 2022

Parishioner letter—Rev neil

Easter 2022

The Cover Image this Easter is inspired by a new song “Come to the Table” by Matt Weeks which you can hear most Sunday’s at St Mary’s.

If you use social media, you may enjoy the ‘anniversaries’ that pop up every now and then, reminding you of what happened on this day in previous years. My timeline recently has been full of images from our early lockdown – our first Evensong in the carpark 2 years ago, ringing the bell, pancakes on the astroturf… It makes me realise that the last time we ‘did Easter’ the ‘normal’ way was 3 years ago! We had a few socially distanced people in church in 2021, but finally this year we are allowed to gather in greater numbers and celebrate with a shared feast.

Continue reading “Letter from The Vicarage – Easter 2022”

Memories in old money

by Mike Jacobs

I came across a sixpence recently and this made me think of the rich culture we had with our pre-decimal coinage. The only recognisable one these days is half-a-crown mainly because the bricks for the Cathedral were sold for this amount. Two shillings and sixpence. The pennies and ha’pennies were real coins and with two or three in your pocket, you knew you had some money. My first ‘pocket money’ was thruppence or three whole pennies. With these in your pocket, you were rich.

Continue reading “Memories in old money”

Tesco Community Grant for Local Project

By Alex Sanderson (Food Parcels Project Team)

Today we would all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who used their blue to tokens and voted for the local food parcels project at Tesco last year.  We are  absolutely delighted to announce that we have now received a Tesco Community Grant of £1000, which will fund 3-6 weeks of much needed food parcel items for local families facing difficult times. Thanks must also go to Tesco and their team who make this all possible.

Every wondered what our weekly shop looks like? Have a look at this photo—this is a fairly typical week, depending on how many families we are supporting. (Usually 20-30 families every week)

If you missed your chance to vote and would like to donate, why not donate online? We have a ‘Give a Little’ fundraising page hosted by St Mary’s where you can even add Gift Aid if you are a tax payer. Of if you prefer to donate food items, why not fill a bag this Lent, one item per day? Contact us for the online giving link or for a list of suggested items Text or call: 07730 609446.

We hugely appreciate your support, as do all our  volunteers and the local families who have benefited from the parcels in their time of need. Our project is only possible thanks to your donations and grants. Your help makes all the difference!  Thank You!

Find out more online about community grants: #CommunityGrants @groundworkuk

Cast your Votes at the Co-op to support Food Projects at The Chapel!

By Alex Sanderson (Chapel Project Manager)

As most locals will already know, the Chapel Project on Wharf Rd is all about sharing Christ’s love through creativity, hospitality and worship. We welcome everyone, of all faiths and none. The Chapel is a joint initiative between the Hants Surrey Border Methodist Circuit, and St Marys Church in Ash Vale (more on our website here: and Facebook @ashvalechapel). Now you can help us do more in 2022, through the Co-op ‘Local Causes’ scheme!

Continue reading “Cast your Votes at the Co-op to support Food Projects at The Chapel!”